Over 160 child sexual exploitation investigations underway in South Yorkshire

Alexis Jay produced a report into the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham
Alexis Jay produced a report into the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham
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Detectives were working on 161 child sexual exploitation investigations in South Yorkshire at the end of last month, new figures reveal.

South Yorkshire Police said there are 78 investigations underway in Rotherham, 42 in Sheffield, 23 in Doncaster and 18 in Barnsley.

Figures released by the force reveal that since October 2015 a total of 70 suspects have been charged and five others have been cautioned.

Over the same period of time, 1,140 offences have been recorded by the force.

Child sexual exploitation became a major issue for South Yorkshire Police following the publication of an independent report into the issue, which was commissioned by Rotherham Council.

Professor Alexis Jay, in her report in 2014, found that 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority failed to act.

She said the perpetrators were mainly men of Pakistani heritage who targeted and abused vulnerable girls.

South Yorkshire Police chiefs are urging people to 'spot the signs' of child sexual exploitation and report suspicions.

Signs include children regularly going missing from home or care, youngsters having physical injuries and abusing drugs or alcohol.

Some victims may become withdrawn, others may be regularly absent from school and some may be regularly committing crimes.

Victims may suddenly appear with new belongings, given to them by offenders as part of the grooming process.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "Tackling child sexual exploitation and bringing offenders to justice is a priority for South Yorkshire Police. We are now operating with a deeper understanding of child sexual exploitation.

"Some children are more at risk then others; it is the responsibility of everyone to spot the signs that a child may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation."

Call South Yorkshire Police on 101.